Silver Spring Stage opened its 2017 One-Act Festival which has been part of their season for fifty years. Each weekend several short plays from the past and present are produced. There is usually no common thread except this year, two of the plays were previously directed by the late Leta Hall at SSS, Clean by Audrey Cefaly and Perfectly Good Airplanes by Steve LaRocque. The other two plays this weekend only are Six Seven Three Twenty by Jacy D’Aiutolo and Alternate Theory by Brian Doyle.
The audience members are asked to vote for their favorite at the end. I had some trouble choosing between Clean and Perfectly Good Airplanes. Clean is an a typical love story about two very ordinary people reaching out to connect and find meaning to the lives. One is a waitress and the other a dish washer in a small local restaurant. They both have worked there for over five years. The waitress is feeling worthless and alone. When she reaches out to the simple dishwasher she has known for all this time, she is in for a few surprises. However, the sweetness of both characters shines out to make these two very average people into extraordinary beings. This mostly due to the very compelling script by Cefaly and the smooth direction of Craig Allen Mummey. The two actors, Rob Gorman and Maura Suilebhan, artfully piece these characters together, bringing to us small glimpses into their lives and minds and capturing our hearts.
Perfectly Good Airplanes is also very well directed by Craig Miller with assistance by Lenora Spahn. It is a touching story of a father and daughter, estranged for several years, and reuniting by an old bridge that has been a big part of the father’s life. As they reconnect, the actors let us into their pain, anger and finally love while they try to deal with the uncertainty of life. Yet another time, Suilebhan gives an emotionally wrenching performance as the Daughter and Ted Schneider bring us a multi-faceted character as he gives life to the Father. It was a hard choice.
Six Seven Three Twenty is a short drama about the pro-football draft. The problem with any sport drama is that some folks just are not sport fans. The jargon sometimes takes a while to understand. To convey the characters D’Aiutolo uses strong language that also may offend some of the audience. However, the tension is often gripping and the acting helps bring the characters and situation to life. Chris Tully plays the ruthless Gary Newman. Tully is just smarmy enough to have us distrust Gary’s motives. Doug Reynolds is the team owner and played by David Dieudonne.
We see the insecure new owner who just inherited the team start getting some backbone only to revert back to his insecurity thanks to Dieudonne’s talent. Adam Adkins plays Mike O’Sullivan, the assistant to it seems everyone and is probably the most likable character. Adkins hits the mark by straddling the fence between Gary and Doug and the Coach. The coach is Sean McCarthy played by Andrew Greenleaf. Again, another fine performance is given by Greenleaf as the coach tries to influence Gary and Doug. Football fans will enjoy the behind the scenes view of this team well directed by Jacy D’Aiutolo.
Alternate Theory is a play you will either find very funny or offensive. It is a satire, I believe, of all the crazy conspiracy theories that abound in our culture. This one deals with the assassination of President Kennedy. In it we are led to believe the Kennedy himself was part of the plot as well as Jackie. JFK is nicely played with a perfect accent by Brendan Murray. Part of this conspiracy are Chase (Matt Baughman) a Secret Service Agent and Driver (Adam Adkins). Both do a fine job in presenting these very outrageous characters. Jackie Kennedy is played by Devon Seybert. In this world Jackie is not the refined cultured woman we all got to see under tremendous duress in the 1960’s both after the loss of her child and shortly after that by the horrible murder of her husband. I had a great deal of trouble accepting this crude talking, heavy smoking Jackie who seemed more like a New York call girl at times than a First Lady from an upper-class family, but Seybert does have us dislike this Jackie very quickly. There was a great deal of laughter in the theater, but at times, I did not see the joke. However, it did have many talking after the show which, perhaps, was the point. The play is well directed by David Dieudonne.
The Lighting Design for all three weekends was done by Bill Strein and Jim Robertson, and the four productions tonight benefited from their expertise. The projection design used this weekend in Perfectly Good Airplanes was done by Steve Deming and really helps convey the starkness of this Boston park. Pam Burks is Stage Manager this first weekend and keeps the action moving between each One-Acts.
As is their norm, Silver Spring Stage often takes risks. You will surely be glad you see any of their 2017 One-Acts. They always surprise, and they are always filled with wonderful local talent.
If you miss this series of plays, next weekend, August 18-20, will feature Queen of the Air: The Last Transmissions of Amelia Earhart by Mark Scharf, Compos Mentis by Marilyn Millstone, The Rothko by Nicholas Thurkettle, Sweet Dreams by Tony Pasqualini and Death by Poinsettia by Dwayne Yancey. The final set August 25-26 will be Muse by Rachel Teagle, One Click Away by Dean Fiala, Stay by Dagney Kerr, A Womb with a View by Rich Orloff and Death and the Beatles Fan by Stephen Kennedy.
Running Time: Two Hours and 30 minutes with an Intermission
The Silver Spring Stage 2017 One-Act Festival plays through August 27, 2017 at Silver Spring Stage in the Woodmoor Shopping Center – 10145 Colesville Road, in Silver Spring, MD. Performances are on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., plus Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. through August 27, 2017. Tickets, may be purchased online.